Friday, November 13, 2009

Life Skills

Children with learning disabilities function at many different levels in math and/or reading. During 3rd hour I take three lower functioning students to another room and work with them on basic reading skills. Two of these students (Dave and Hailey) have positive personalities and are hard workers; the third has low self esteem and "shuts down" at the snap of a finger when feeling the least bit challenged. This third child is a boy previously referenced in an earlier blog entry -- Vince.

Typically we work on sight words (for example, "I, am, were, because..."), vowel sounds (short a, short o.....), and blends ("bl", "ch", "sw".....). All three struggle with certain words, and I'm not sure why. "Were" is THE word they cannot remember. Every day we review it and the next day they cannot remember it. "Another" and "write" also prove difficult.

Vince and Hailey are mainstreamed in science and social studies where they learn about geography, countries, cells, periodic table and such, but neither Jeramie nor I think they understand what they are to learn. We believe they can benefit from learning life skills, so besides teaching basic phonics, I am teaching some life skills. Another teacher provided us with resource materials, and yesterday we did our first activity. I gave Vince and Dave (Hailey was at chorus) a note card and asked them to write their names, addresses, and phone numbers on it. Neither knew their addresses. Dave did not know his entire phone number. (Checking with Hailey later in the day revealed she knew all the info)

Okay, this was discouraging. The next hour Jeramie looked up the info for me, I wrote it on note cards, and today I had them fill out an pretend contest entry form. The instructions said $100,000,000 was the grand prize........Vince wanted to know if this was for real. Alas, no, but should he ever wish to enter a contest maybe he will have a better chance since he now knows how to fill out a form. Since they had the address info. in front of them the addresses were no problem, but Vince did not know how to spell his father's first name, and Dave wrote Mom and Dad in the blanks for "mother's name" and "father's name." I clarified what was needed --- he then asked me to spell their names.

Not sure how they got this far in life without knowing this info. but we're remedying the lapses. Next week we're going to spend some time on this and reading simple maps. The low skill levels of these children can be disheartening, but we are hoping that learning some basic life skills will ease their way into a highly competitive world.

12 Year Old Energy Level

Whew! Happy it is Friday! The 6th graders have been wound up all week and took it up a notch today. Wound up means getting out of their seats at random to walk around the room, periodically breaking a pencil so there is an excuse to sharpen it, speaking to a friend while the teacher is talking, focusing all attention of a pencil/ruler/folded paper in front of them rather than paying attention to a lesson. If it were only a student or two in a class here and there I'd say "oh, well." That is not the case. I provide student support in 6 classes and each class has at least 3 students per class who exhibit the above behavior on a daily basis. Most of these are boys and they are not impressed/intimidated/cowed by any adult reprimands, cajoling, threats. The only time they settle is when an educational video is playing.

For some reason I was not at wits end today. Maybe I'm getting used to the behavior and weathering it rather than becoming irritated by it. I've also learned where to focus my attention during a class --- and thank my lucky stars I'm not the teacher! I've also developed relationships with our small group of mainstreamed LD students and enjoy working with them. They keep me sane. Most are nice kids who work hard and want to succeed. Those who don't are so low level we often discuss, worriedly, their adulthood fate.

So, even though the students provided some challenges today, I am in a good mood, not tired and looking forward to the weekend. Oh, and its payday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


An eloquent President accords dignity and respectfulness to a solemn situation. President Obama's speech at Fort Hood today is reminiscent of past greats whose speeches historically endure.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Evening

I'm sitting in my big comfy chair in the living room, junk TV on the screen (Two and a Half Men, to be exact), a mask stiffening on my face. (I just KNOW this time I will wash it off and look 10 years younger -- yup, I can feel it in my bones.) The dog is freshly groomed (he was a very good boy according to the groomer) and smelling better than he has in weeks.

This weekend laundry was done, dishwasher emptied, Halloween decorations taken down (these accomplished while Dan was yelling at the Packers on TV), dog walked, groceries gotten. Garage was finally cleaned out, hoses put away, and bushes trimmed (huge hugs and thanks to Dan for helping with these things).

I love the mundane of my life. While the health care issues, the wretched economy, and the Middle Eastern wars loom large, I am happily ensconced in my snow globe world for the moment. So, for tonight I am not going to ponder the serious topics nor vent on annoyances. This is an evening to relish the cozy simplicities.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gosh Darn It

Gosh darn it isn't what I want to say and while I don't shirk from swearing, don't really want to see my favorite "f" word blasted all over my blog.

I had written a wonderful blog entry on education only to watch it vanish into cyberspace! Wah!!! (picture Charlie Brown crying in anguish) I do not have the energy to begin again tonight.